Tuesday, November 29, 2011

At The Foot Of Mount Rushmore (Or Close Enough): Comfort Inn Hill City, SD

Comfort InnComfort Inn Hill City

Click to reserve a room directly through Choice Hotels!

The Good: Good location, Decent sized room, Breakfast, Friendly workers
The Bad: Lousy grounds, Plumbing noise, Price
The Basics: A wonderful hotel very close to a national monument, the Comfort Inn, Hill City is a decent place to stay.

As part of my continuing quest across the United States this summer for my one (working) vacation a year, I left the Mall Of America in Bloomington, MN (reviewed here!) and headed for Rapid City, South Dakota, perhaps best known for a little national park called Mount Rushmore (reviewed here!). Having planned ahead this year, I found that very close to the national monument was a hotel in the Choice Hotels chain.

So, I departed the Mall Of America and my hotel there and drove the eight hours to Mount Rushmore and in the evening of that day, I found myself at the Comfort Inn in Hill City, South Dakota. As it happened, I made it to this Comfort Inn on the same weekend as a yearly bike rally. While the one in Sturgis, SD was this weekend, it seems there was one in Hill City, as well. Roads in Hill City were closed to car drivers like me in the city proper, so getting food was annoying, but what was not problematic was the stay at the Comfort Inn there.


The Comfort Inn & Suites, SD040, is located at 678 Main Street, Hill City, SD. This is on the same route as the Crazy Horse statue-in-progress (who pays $20.00 to see an unfinished statue?!), which is actually Route 16S. It is approximately fifteen miles from Mount Rushmore and Mapquest directions are actually accurate for it. Given the winding roads and high hills in the area, fifteen miles is remarkably close to the national park and this is one of the better values in the area.

The Comfort Inn has one entrance, a single turn off the highway into the parking lot. The Comfort Inn is a two-story building with a blue wood exterior and the basic layout of a motor lodge. As a result, there is only parking out front, along the building and to the curb in two rows; it is almost surprising there is enough parking to accommodate the fifty-four rooms in the hotel, but there seemed to be no trouble during my stay (and with the bikers in town, the place was booked solid). There are no grounds out front, but out back there is a deck and a greasy valley . . . sort of. Off the back deck, there are beautiful mountains and so long as one is looking up at them, the view is great. Looking down is looking into a poorly mowed valley and people's back yards on the other side.

There is a gas station next to the hotel and it seems to be within walking distance of anything in Hill City. This is, though, mostly a place that one crashes as opposed to a resort-type place where one wants to stay and do things in the hotel (i.e. where the hotel is the destination).

Room Size

The Comfort Inn in Hill City is a quaint, rustic looking hotel from the outside and the same might be said of the lobby area. The lobby is small with only the counter to check in and a small desk with the public internet terminal. The lobby opens into a very scenic and spacious meeting room - which is where breakfast is. So, the hotel does not seem claustrophobic by any means, because even while one is standing checking in, there is the view of the valley and the deck and fireplace in the meeting room quite visible.

The hotel staff immediately greets guests and every member of the staff that I interacted with was friendly, kind and knowledgeable about the area. When asked about food, the clerk provided me with a printout of local restaurants, when checking in, she provided a map of the hotel and was energetic and funny in the way she presented it.

As for the room itself, this was a fairly substantial sized room for a location intended just for sleeping in! Measuring thirty-one feet deep by thirteen and a half feet wide, the room included two queen beds, a full bathroom with shower and toilet and an adjacent area with the sink and huge mirror.


The standard room at the Comfort Inn was remarkably clean. As always, I stayed in a nonsmoking room and it smelled like it had never been smoked in, which is pretty much the ideal for a hotel room that is advertised as nonsmoking. The entire hotel smelled neutral, save the breakfast area in the morning which smelled of sausage, waffles and coffee!

There was a stain on the rug in the upstairs hallway, but other than that the entire hotel seemed perfectly clean and fresh. In the room, the first flush test of the toilet easily passed, which is always a plus. However, it did reveal the first - and probably only - major problem with the hotel for me. Whenever the toilet was flushed, the hot water in the shower was turned on or the faucet was run, there was a racket behind the wall. The pipes make noise at this Comfort Inn and while I might not care what kind of noise I make, it was irksome when my neighbors did things like shower (which, to be fair, they have a right to do).

The wallpaper in the room was tasteful and none of the wallpaper or paint was peeling. This was an exceptionally clean hotel. The common areas were all clean and well-maintained. The deck was well-maintained, but the grass near it could have used a good mowing.


The Comfort Inn in Hill City is not bad as far as the amenities go. In every room there was the standard coffee packets, shampoo, conditioner, and lotion, along with an air conditioning unit.

This location was staffed by an exceptionally friendly staff, both at night and in the morning (I was taking something out to my car in the morning and the desk clerk started chatting me up, a surprise to anyone from the more . . . introverted nowheres in New York).

The free continental breakfast at this Comfort Inn was easily one of the best I have ever had. In addition to the make your own waffles station (there were two waffle irons here!) there was fresh made sausage biscuits and gravy. There were two types of cold cereal, milk, apple and orange juice from a machine, as well as packets of hot cocoa! There were pre-sliced plain bagels, cream cheese, and at least five different flavors of oatmeal. As well, there were English muffins, donuts, white bread for toast, and hard boiled eggs. As well, there were fresh oranges and bananas.

There is a free high speed internet terminal in the lobby which guests are able to freely use at all hours of the day or night. There is an outdoor pool, which to be honest, I did not swim in. The television has approximately fifty cable television stations.

But perhaps most impressive, for a small hotel right on the highway, during a weekend when the town was descended upon by legions of bikers, my room - which was second floor, back - had no noise from outdoors. I heard my neighbors showering more than any motorcycles tearing through town!


I have stayed at a lot of dives - I have refused to stay at a number of dives! - and this is not one of them! In fact, my only serious issue with this hotel was the price ($110/night seems hefty to me for the middle of nowhere, no matter how close to a national park it is!) and the plumbing. Otherwise, the stay was perfect and having a conversation with the clerk who checked me in - extraordinarily friendly and I watched her keep her cool with a customer from hell as I sat working at the computer - was almost enough to make up for that.

For other hotels in the Choice Hotels chain, please be sure to check out my reviews of:
Quality Inn & Suites Airport - Bloomington, MN (Mall Of America)
Comfort Inn Worlds Of Fun - Kansas City, MO
Comfort Suites Otay Mesa - San Diego, CA


For other travel reviews, please visit my index page by clicking here!

© 2011, 2008 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
Comfort InnComfort Inn Hill City

Click to reserve a room directly through Choice Hotels!

No comments:

Post a Comment